By Anne Collier
As many parents know, adopting a virtual pet and caring for it is a mainstay of kids’ virtual worlds. Well, in the brand-new Web version of the animated TV series Tiny Planets, kids adopt and care for a planet (as well as pilot spaceships and play mini-games). That’s at MyTinyPlanets.com, just one of the seven Web sites that make up the Tiny Planets presence on the Web. Others are TinyPlanetsFun.com (games, puzzles, coloring, etc.), …TV.com, …Books.com, …Learning.com, and …Labs.com. As in other virtual worlds, users win awards and higher ranking while playing games, in this case “Stars.” There’s also virtual currency called “KEYs,” which buy new landscapes for one’s planet, spaceships, cadet accessories (your avatar’s a “cadet”), and interactive books. Popular activities include playing games, completing missions, and “gardening” in one’s biodome. Safety measures include no open chat (users choose from pre-written phrases), “no email addresses, no personalized names, no personal details,” says the Tiny Planets press release. See ConnectSafely’s virtual world safety tips for parents of kids and teens.